For some reason it is always a surprise when we rediscover just how fertile and verdant Italy really is. We always have this picture in our minds of a sere, Mediterranean landscape scorching under the summer sun and we were fully expecting this when we paid our first visit to Abruzzo. The reality was quite different.
As we headed to the north of Abruzzo and the hills surrounding Torano Nuovo we were struck with how much Abruzzo resembles the Italian Alps. Here, for over 30 years, Guido Strapelli from Cantine Guido Strapelli has managed his vineyards with care and an admirable dedication. At around 240 metres above sea level and equidistant from sea and mountains the land is caressed by gentle breezes that make for excellent grape growing conditions. From 10 hectares of vineyards he produces around 65,000 bottles of wine per year. His wines are all certified organic and vegan-friendly but this really does not begin to tell the full story. In common with so many of the artisan winemakers we meet, Guido doesn’t see what he does as a business – to him, making wine is a way of life and one that he would not exchange for anything else.
The farmhouse that has been so carefully restored has a wonderfully tiled floor where once the animals were housed and this marriage of tradition and innovation is something that runs deep in Guido’s philosophy. When we visited he explained that he was conducting an experiment with Trace Technologies and he introduced us to Marco and Carlo. They were installing monitoring equipment in the soil and amongst the leaves of the vines allowing real-time monitoring of parameters like humidity. This, allied to a careful analysis of years of weather records, allows them to accurately predict outbreaks of disease and so Guido can take preventative action before problems occur. It also allows Guido to see which plants might require more intervention.
The nearby small town of Controguerra gives its name to a DOC white wine. Guido makes two iterations of this wine, one with Passerina grapes and the other with Pecorino, both varieties native to this region. The Passerina is fermented in steel and has a deep straw colour. The bouquet is rich with apples and pears, aromatic herbs, and minerality, and on the palate it is full and well-balanced with a delightful salinity. This is wine to enjoy with one of the local Abruzzese fish dishes – and perfect on a warm summer’s day.
The vines for Pecorino were planted in 1998 and produce a wine with a delicate bouquet of red apples, almonds, and honey whilst on the palate there is a pleasing acidity, minerality, peaches, and nectarines. This wine would pair well with lean fish or light pasta dishes.
By way of contrast we also sampled another very local wine called Cerasuolo.This is made from the Montepulciano grape, another local variety, that Guido leaves in contact with the skins for 36 hours after pressing. The result is a wine with a deep pink colour and a gentle perfume of raspberries. In the mouth it is rich with the favour of cherries. This wine would pair well with fish and white meats.
People like Guido always leave us feeling slightly envious in that they have made their place on this earth and they are content in their corner of Italy, producing some very nice wines and fragrant olive oil. They love their history and tradition but are not afraid to try out new technology. They may not move the world but they do try and make it a better place.
Visit Website Read about our visit Explore Places Explore Restaurants